Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit

Guided By Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit

Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit

Although Robert Pollard slipped on his pledge to put out three albums a year with the reassembled Guided By Voices – by only releasing one LP with the group in 2013 – it’s perhaps been a good thing.  After the appearance of English Little League in the first half of last year, there was a need for the reassembled posse to slow down and refocus, to avoid dimming the glow of reunification.  Even though the newly-released Motivational Jumpsuit is not a radical affair, it is a warmer and tighter selection than its predecessor, possessing enough self-refreshing zest to continue justifying the band’s ongoing existence, despite the recent departure of drummer Kevin Fennell.

By eschewing some of the heavier murky tones that crept into English Little League and working with generally more mid-fi than lo-fi production values, Motivational Jumpsuit allows its songs to breathe a little more whilst keeping gristle and girth to a minimum.  Hence, Pollard pumps out an impressively consistent stream of power-pop (“Littlest League Possible”), garage-rock (“Vote For Me Dummy”), wiry post-punk (“Alex and The Omegas”), mutant-glam-chugging (“Child Activist”) and mangled Spectorisms (“Save The Company”) to keep the faithful and the uninitiated mutually enthused. Stepping outside of his comfort zone yields further nuggets, with Pollard revisiting Peter Gabriel fixations (“I Am Columbus” and “Evangeline Dandelion”), slipping in some remarkably strong stripped-back acoustic musings (“Until Next Time” and “Go Without Packing”) and ironically imagining the suffering of a songwriting drought (“Writer’s Bloc (Psycho All the Time)”).

Alongside Pollard seemingly consolidating and expanding his creative reach whilst reaffirming GBV’s relative democracy, co-pilot Tobin Sprout is given more room to roam than he was allowed on English Little League.  Thus, he turns in a suite of typically cherishable moments with the psyche-pop bliss of “Jupiter Spin,” the harmony-drenched jangle of “Record Level Love,” the wobbly folk-rock of “Calling Up Washington,” the fuzzy hymnal “Shine” and the dainty dreaminess of “Some Things Are Big (And Some Things Are Small).”  Once again, the desire to hear a fresh Sprout solo album grows even stronger.

Thanks then to some subtle recalibration, the Guided By Voices record making machine is in finely-tuned condition for the vast bulk of the Motivational Jumpsuit, keeping the gang of veterans on the reunion road without any embarrassment.

Fire Records / Guided By Voices Inc.